In an attempt to help Member States’ authorities and developers manage the environmental consequences of construction projects more easily, the European Commission has brought together all existing EU legislation governing environmental impact assessments. The original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and its three subsequent revisions have been combined to create a more compact, clearly translated and user-friendly version which has just come into force.
This ‘codification’ is part of an ongoing effort to simplify the EU’s regulatory environment. It means that the EIA Directive and all its subsequent amendments now form one single transparent and readable piece of legislation, without any change to its original provisions. Like the existing legislation, the codified version has been translated into all EU official languages. Translations of the new version have also been revised to eliminate any uncertainties caused by unclear wording or linguistic errors.
The European Parliament and the Council adopted the codified EIA Directive on 13 December 2011, and its text was published on 28 January 2012 as Directive 2011/92/EU.
Environmental assessment is a procedure that ensures that the environmental implications of construction projects – eg dams, motorways, airports, factories and energy projects – are assessed and taken into account before the relevant Member State authority makes a decision on project approval. The common principles for the environmental assessment of individual public and private projects were initially defined in the 1985 EIA Directive and amended in 1997, 2003 and 2009.
The EIA Directive review process will be concluded later in 2012, when the Commission will present its proposal for the revision of the codified Directive. Future changes will concentrate on the content of the Directive, rather than its format.